The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has signed new work arrangements with Japanese energy giant Inpex on the $34 billion dollar Ichthys LNG project off the north-west coast of Australia which will support up to 2000 Australian jobs.
Inpex recently named the massive offshore facilities destined for the Ichthys gas field in Australia in a ceremony held at the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea.
The project’s central processing facility was named Ichthys Explorer and the floating production, storage and offloading facility was named Ichthys Venturer.
The maritime union said on Thursday that the Enhanced Dispute Settlement Process, Development & Production Arrangement (EDSPDPA) will run until at 2030 and includes commitments towards the development of maritime employees, the implementation of a diversity program, and the promotion of Australian crews on certain project support vessels.
These commitments are aimed at retaining and enhancing the skills and experience of Australian maritime workers in the offshore oil and gas sector and also involve an enhanced dispute settlement process with a dedicated conciliator to help resolve potential disputes without resort to industrial action, the union explained.
MUA Western Australian Branch Secretary and National President Chris Cain said the work arrangements cover rig tenders, drilling rigs, seismic vessels, supply vessels and accommodation vessels.
“As a result of this arrangement, we expect there will be up to 2,000 Australian jobs on the Project – not just for MUA seafarers but other maritime workers as well, all on Aussie wages and conditions,” Cain said.
“This is great news for Australian workers who have been experiencing the recent downturn in offshore oil and gas construction and we’d like to thank Inpex for sitting down with us and finding a way to maximize local jobs on this important project.
“The MUA always stands up for our members and other Australian workers and has led from the front in these negotiations.”
In addition to the MUA, the agreement also covers the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) and Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE).
The Ichthys Project is expected to produce 8.9 million tonnes of LNG and 1.6 million tonnes of LPG each year, along with more than 100,000 barrels of condensate per day at peak.
It is estimated that the operational phase of the Inpex gas plant could be up to 40 years as Australia joins Qatar as the world’s largest producer of LNG.
‘Relief’ for workers
MUA National Secretary and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin said jobs for members and energy security are both central topics at the moment to the national workforce and its communities.
“This announcement provides great relief to our members and other Australian workers, many of whom are currently unemployed and rightly expect to have first crack at jobs in their own country, rather than 457s and other overseas workers who are introduced to this and other Australian industries with no other rationale other than to undercut pay and conditions,” Crumlin said.
“These natural resources belong to the Australian people and are our sovereign wealth now and going forward. Consequentially and properly, the benefits of our assets must also flow to the entire community through Australian job opportunities.
“These types of work arrangements are incredibly important to provide investment certainty and security of supply and it is worth noting that since the MUA and the other Maritime Unions signed a similar agreement covering the north-west shelf in the 1980s, not a single day has been lost to industrial action.”